Not every teen is taking the summer off to hang out at the beach. Members of the Gary Green Team are working hard to improve the potential of their neighborhood including Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Green Team members are part of Ground Work Gary, a national partnership with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service and Groundwork USA. Teens are selected to work in their community on projects that could lead to careers in environmental stewardship. “The program has dual goals - to prepare Gary’s youth for opportunities in environmental leadership and to develop community capacity to improve the physical environment,” stated Ground Work Gary’s Executive Director Deborah Hammond. “These teens get great experience in job readiness and specifically careers found in resource management or outdoor recreational management.” The Green Team is selected based on their interest and skills in science and receive a stipend for their efforts.
This year six teens are developing skills and working on a variety of projects. Research is part of any project and the Green Team’s research included visiting sites to observe the most current theories in outdoor education at places like Chicago’s Morton Arboretum. The next step is to apply with they have learned. At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore they are working with park employees as landscape architects and park planners to create a children’s native plant garden and nature study nature area, right in their own back yard at the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education. Projects to finish out the summer include working on the Great Marsh Trail and camping in the park. “It is always great to have local teens interested in helping their community become stewards of this national park.” stated Superintendent Costa Dillon.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of 394 units of the National Park System ranging from Yellowstone to the Statue of Liberty. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore includes 15 miles of the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan and 15,000 acres of beach, woods, marshes, and prairie in the northwest corner of Indiana. More than 2 million visitors come to this national park each year.